Without fail, I watch the Miss America Pageant every year. It goes against every Northeastern-raised, short hair-having, skull sneaker-wearing bone in my body, but it's hard to stop once you start.
In high school, my marching band (something had to prompt skull sneakers at 24. I was a flag girl!) marched in the Miss America Parade when it was still in Atlantic City. At one point, I wouldn't have blinked at waving a silver flag at the crowd to a saxophone-heavy rendition of Semper Fidelis, marching on a boardwalk behind a convertible carrying a 20-year-old with Vaseline on her chicklet-shaped teeth.
I've always watched the Miss American Pageant, and I have to say that yesterday marked the longest I have ever watched the Country Music Television in my whole life. I can't even admit to a Dixie Chicks CD somewhere in my jumbled collection from college. It's never tempted me. The closest I've come to pageants is Little Miss Sunshine, and the closest I've come to the real South (excluding New Orleans and Miami, which I think are culturally distinct enough though geographically Southern) was a dive bar devoted to Patsy Cline in West Virginia. I was there for an hour. My two drinks totaled $ 4.25.
Last night was similarly brought to me by $4 of booze. Andre "Brut" (2006-- a good year), and a variety of cheesy delights that my friend and I assembled. We had a ball being bitchy, and as someone who was on hold with Verizon today for over an hour fighting about 30 dollars from 2004, I can assure you that I'm pretty good at that.
We noted the amounts of nose jobs needed, lipstick shade adjustments, faux-tanned muscle definition, and regional accent cover-up. How do people watch it with any level of remote seriousness? We jokingly blinked with emphasis at each other as we shouted out pageant buzz words: Leadership! Education! Prayers! THE CHILDREN!
Miss Pennsylvania, the representative of my driver's license was from Beaver, Pennsylvania, which made me snicker for a variety of reasons. And Miss Virginia was from Fairfax Station and Miss Maryland was from Hagerstown, so the two of them were closer to being Miss DC than Miss DC could ever be, considering all that hullabaloo that surrounded her tiara.
We decided out of 52 women, that we'd like to be friends with Miss "tap-danced her way into our hearts to a Prince song and had the balls to wear a white bikini" Georgia, and Miss "I'm a passable Beyoncé impersonator, but I look totally hot in lime green" Texas.
When BOR-RING Miss Oklahoma's mouth gaped in the fake-shock of her triumph, we chuckled at our two favs who rounded out the 2nd and 3rd places. They're probably better off not winning-- at least now they can have a cheeseburger and stop trying to cover up what they really mean with a charged lexicon of PageantSpeak. When Miss Georgia was asked "who would you rather sit on a plane next to, Bill Clinton or George Bush?" and she said "Bill Clinton" without even pretending to hesitate, I knew she was a goner.
But I think the familiar end of this pageant is what it needed, or else I might have felt bad if someone I might have liked in person won. Here I am sitting in my living room, all brave for being liberated and snarky and skully-shoed. And there they are, all out there in the open. Like freaking Chris Matthews, pageant judge, checking out a different kind of suit than he does on your average episode of Hardball,
I could never have done that. Kept my trap shut. Been called a "girl" until I was nearly 27 and had to answer questions and "show my personality" without actually having an opinion that would cause any sort of rift. Where else in the world does "personality" equal "muscle tone"?
But then again, if I had, I wouldn't owe money for the education I got at most expensive college in the nation, now would I?